UMKC Innovation Center partners with the university and the community to spark and sustain entrepreneurial efforts within our region and across the country.

KCSourceLink connects KC entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

MOSourceLink connects Missouri entrepreneurs to the right resource at the right time.

Whiteboard2Boardroom connects entrepreneurs and businesses to technologies available for licensing.

Digital Sandbox KC provides early-stage proof-of-concept support for digital products.

Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center provides technical assistance to startup and existing businesses.

ScaleUP! Kansas City helps businesses with revenues around $200K scale toward their first $1 million.

Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers helps local businesses obtain government contracts.

KCInvestED helps investors learn more about investing in KC startups.

SourceLink® helps communities nationwide build vibrant and vital entrepreneurial ecosystems.
UMKC Innovation Center
UMKC Innovation Center
Empire Window Cleaning

Such Great Heights: Jorge Aguilar and Empire Highrise USA

Empire Window Cleaning

As the owner of Empire Highrise USA, a company that cleans the windows of some seriously tall buildings in Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Nebraska, South Carolina and Tennessee, Jorge Aguilar knows firsthand: if you’re going to reach great heights, you need a solid anchor.

Jorge found that support from the Urban Business Growth Initiative (which, by the way, offers scholarships to eligible businesses, taking its high impact courses from a price tag of several hundred to just $75). Through courses like FastTrac® GrowthVenture™, one-on-one counseling and a growth-minded mentor, he grew his businesses and changed his entrepreneurial mindset.

While most 18 year olds make money with their feet firmly planted on the ground, Jorge was scaling the sides of buildings, landing his first job as a window washer at just 18 years old. Three years later, he started his own business, Empire Window Cleaning.

Empire starting by cleaning residential windows, but Jorge had his sights set on higher goals. Literally. He added commercial and highrise cleaning to his clientele and then in 2008, he expanded his business, buying a competitor’s cleaning company. Four years later, he took Empire national. In 2012, Empire Window Cleaning became Empire Highrise USA, that today boasts 12 full-time employees.

In those first years, Jorge spent a lot of time attending seminars for window cleaning to learn everything he could about his industry. To learn about how to run a business, he turned to FastTrac: “It was my college,” he says.

He drew insights from fellow business owners in his FastTrac class. Even though they weren’t in the same industry, they faced the same challenges, like how to manage finances, employees and client relationships. 

Through FastTrac and the peers and mentors he meet, he fundamentally changed the way he thought about his business.

“Sure, UBGI helped me with the business side of my company. I learned about contracts and finances, how to grow my business and how to apply for a bank loan,” he says. “But it also helped me think about growing my business as a business owner, not only as an employee.”

His advice to other business owners on the edge of growth: “It’s important to get into the guts of your business and see it from the inside out,” Jorge adds. “That’s the only way you’ll reach longevity.”

 

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